Mon, 02 Aug 2021

A meeting of the Visegrad Group foreign ministers is under way in Poland to discuss closer ties between Europe and the United States, a common post-pandemic strategy, cooperation between the four Central European states, and the group's relationship with the rest of the European Union.

The May 14 meeting in the central Polish city of Lodz is being hosted by Polish Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau, whose country currently holds the group's rotating presidency, and includes his counterparts from the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary -- Jakub Kulhanek, Ivan Korcok, and Peter Szijjarto.

Rau, who welcomed his colleagues in Lodz's Herbst Palace, said on the eve of the meeting that the group, known as V4, would discuss whether it should follow EU regulations for introducing certificates for people vaccinated against COVID-19, or introduce its own rules.

The four diplomats are also due to tackle climate policy and the introduction of new, environment-friendly technologies.

All four countries are EU and NATO members. Hungary and Poland have often been criticized by the European Union for what is seen as political interference in areas like the judiciary and media freedom.

In March, the four held talks with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Brussels. Poland is seen as a staunch U.S. ally and a bulwark of NATO's eastern flank at a time of increased Russian assertiveness in the region.

Hungary's populist Prime Minister Viktor Orban, on the other hand, has constantly moved toward closer ties with Moscow and maintains a close relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The V4 was founded in February 1991 from a declaration of cooperation that then-Presidents Lech Walesa of Poland, Vaclav Havel of then-Czechoslovakia, and Jozsef Antall of Hungary signed in Visegrad, Hungary.

With reporting by AP

Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036

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